[British Columnbia] Clark needs to step up on environment – by Stephen Hume (Vancouver Sun – November 25, 2015)


Wednesday’s agreement between Premier Christy Clark and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker promising protection for shared environments from new mining developments on trans-boundary salmon rivers won’t quell the grassroots opposition swelling in the Northern U.S. state.

In fact, it might even make things more difficult for B.C.’s ambitious northwest development plans. Alaskan First Nations, fishing and environmental groups are already signalling a desire to trigger U.S. federal intervention through the International Joint Commission under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.

What happened to the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines — once promoted as a sure thing to carry Alberta’s oilsands crude to tidewater — might serve as a cautionary examples.

And recent events in B.C. won’t up the credibility quotient for provincial promises.

Let’s see, in southern B.C. we have run-off that wasn’t supposed to be there flowing where it wasn’t supposed to go — into Shawnigan Lake — from a contaminated soil dump approved by the province on assurances that water shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t leave the site.

Environment Minister Mary Polak at first seemed to imply this wasn’t happening. Observers produced a video. The minister defaulted to the argument that even if water was coming off the site, it was safe.

Ministry officials then announced the province might suspend operations at the Cowichan Valley landfill.

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